Reitz picked to edge Jasper in Class 4A sectional semifinal showdown

FOOTBALL PREDICTION BLOG INVOLVING SIAC TEAMS – WEEK 11

CLASS 5A SECTIONAL 16 FIRST ROUND
NORTH (1-8) at CASTLE (5-4), 7 p.m. Friday
Castle coach Doug Hurt has remarked that he likes the bye before the first round 5A sectional game, so his team can smooth out some kinks and heal up a bit. In the Knights’ last meeting with North on Oct. 9 at John Lidy Field, Dayne Keller threw for a season-high six touchdowns in the first three quarters of a 51-0 victory. I don’t think the rematch will be quite that lopsided, but Castle should again win in a walk.

Prediction: Castle 45, North 7

CLASS 4A SECTIONAL 24 SEMIFINALS
BOONVILLE (7-3) at HARRISON (8-2), 7 p.m. Friday
The Warriors will try to contain Boonville running back Camdon Cartwright, who gained 230 yards on 33 carries, including three TDs, in the Pioneers’ 53-40 victory over Bosse. Boonville might be able to score against Harrison, but simply won’t be able to contain the Warriors’ speed. Harrison has a habit of playing up or down to the level of the competition, can’t wait to get another possible shot at Reitz in the final, so it won’t be overlooking the Pioneers.

Prediction: Harrison 42, Boonville 28

NO. 5 JASPER (9-1) at NO. 4 REITZ (9-1), 6:30 p.m, Friday
Some say Jasper is a little down this season, despite its gaudy record. The Wildcats no longer have an Ahrens at quarterback, a 6-foot-5 Austin Alles at tight end and their offensive line isn’t as dominant as usual. But Jasper still has that swagger and play tough, physical defense and run its typical ball-control offense. Although WR-DB Grant Theil is a game-breaker and has been offered a scholarship by Air Force, Reitz has a game-breaker of its own in RB-DB Kerrion Ringo. Every year since 2007, either Reitz or Jasper has won this sectional, with the exception of Central in 2011. Expect Reitz to beat the Wildcats in a close one, as long as it doesn’t fall behind 14-0 for the third week in a row and uses its overall speed advantage.

Prediction: Reitz 28, Jasper 21

CLASS 2A SECTIONAL 40 SEMIFINALS
NO. 1 MATER DEI (10-0) at CLARKSVILLE PROVIDENCE (4-6), 6:30 p.m.
The only other team that had a winning record in this sectional was Forest Park, which was stunned by North Posey in the first round. Expect Mater Dei to continue to roll through this sectional, barely breaking a sweat.

Prediction: Mater Dei 42, Clarksville Providence 14.

Last week: 5-0.
Overall: 40-7.

Thanks for reading.

–Gordon Engelhardt

Morning after: sectional roundup

It was a somewhat loud opening night of sectionals. Most games went as expected, but there were a couple upsets, a couple nail biters and some high-powered offenses…

Charlestown stunned Heritage Hills, 39-37: The 3A No. 2/9 Patriots led 31-15 late in the third quarter, but gave up three straight touchdowns (and three two-point conversions) to surrender the lead. Down 39-31 with under two minutes left, senior QB Caleb Mulzer connected with classmate Jack Fischer on a 40-yard TD pass, but their two-point conversion pass fell short and Charlestown hung on to win. Heritage Hills ended the season 8-2. Charlestown (8-2) will host Brownstown Central (8-2) in the bottom half of the 3A-31 bracket. Take: If you told me at the beginning of the season that the Pats would win eight games, I’d have probably taken the under. They lost a lot from that semi-state team last year. This year featured a solid senior class as well, but replacing all-state players at six positions is tough. Regardless, Todd Wilkerson has built a strong foundation and they have some good pieces returning next season.

Southridge upset North Harrison, 28-21: Southridge scored 14 unanswered in the fourth quarter, including a 55-yard, go-ahead pick-6 by senior DE Chad Meyer with 1:54 left. The Raiders (7-3) have a reputation as being one-dimensional within their wing-T offense, but it’s effective as all 288 yards came on the ground and beat the No. 7/15 team in 3A. Take: I’m not sure how big of a shock this was, media poll withstanding. This was a nip-tuck game throughout, but Southridge forced three interceptions and that’s the ball game. Raiders will host Corydon (6-4) in the other 3A-31 semifinal.

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Reitz survived a scare from Central, 35-28: Reitz was down 21-14 early in the third quarter, but senior RB Kerrion Ringo scored on successive drives to snap a 21-all game and then came up with his second interception of the night to seal the win. Central senior RB Dorian Williams rushed for 269 yards. But the No. 4/4 Panthers (9-1), who lead all of 4A in interceptions, added three more picks and also recovered a fumble. Take: Valiant effort by Central (5-5), but there’s no such thing as moral victories or bad wins. Reitz survived and advanced, which likely doesn’t breed confidence for its fan base. But now the Panthers have to turn the page with No. 5/6 Jasper coming to the Bowl next week for a 4A-24 semifinal. Jasper (9-1) spanked Owen Valley 38-0.

Rapid fire:

  • Princeton posts comeback win over Memorial 22-19. Princeton was slightly favored in this 3A-32 opener and it turned out to be quite a game. Princeton (8-2) trailed 19-7 early in the fourth quarter but rallied with back-to-back strikes, and its defense held up its end. First 8-win season for Princeton since 1993. It’ll be at Mount Vernon (5-5) in one semifinal. Top-ranked Gibson Southern will host Sullivan (8-2) in the other.
  • Boonville out slugged Bosse 53-40 in an interesting shootout. Junior RB Camdon Cartwright rushed for more than 200 yards for the fourth game in a row (sixth this season) and scored four TDs. First sectional win at home in 11 years for the Pioneers (7-3), who will play at Harrison (8-2) in the other 4A-24 semifinal.

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  • Mater Dei’s offense was brilliant in 63-22 rout of South Spencer. The 2A top-ranked Wildcats (10-0), coming off a thrilling win over Reitz last week, scored on their first nine possessions against the Rebels. The only time MD didn’t score was on the final series when it took a knee 5-yards outside the SS end zone to run out the clock. The Wildcats’ reward? Hop a bus to face Providence (4-6) in a 2A-40 semifinal. North Posey (3-7) will be at Eastern Perkin (3-7).
  • Linton, Perry Central will meet again: Linton and Perry Central both won convincingly last night and will meet in a battle of ranked teams. No. 10/10 Perry Central (9-1) hosts No. 3/3 Linton-Stockton (9-1) in next week’s 1A-48 semifinal round. PC has been knocked out of the tournament by Linton the past four years and are again the underdog. Tecumseh (4-6) will travel to North Central (Farmersburg) (6-4) in the other semifinal.

Reitz predicted to bounce back with win over Central in sectional opener

PREP FOOTBALL PREDICTION BLOG INVOLVING SIAC TEAMS – WEEK 10
(All times CDT)

CLASS 4A SECTIONAL 24
No. 4 REITZ (8-1) at CENTRAL (5-4), 7 p.m. Friday
Reitz must try to bounce back from a heartbreaking 29-28 loss to Mater Dei in a battle for the SIAC regular-season title last Friday. But the Panthers have done it before and they can do it again. After losing 28-21 to MD last year, Reitz went on to capture the sectional title. Central is too one-dimensional to beat the Panthers, who own a 28-7 regular season victory over the Bears.

Prediction: Reitz 28, Central 14

BOSSE (2-7) at BOONVILLE (6-3), 7 p.m. Friday
It’s doubtful that the Bulldogs will have an answer for Boonville running back Camden Cartwright, who gained 285 yards on 28 carries, including three TDs, in a 35-32 win over Mount Carmel. First-year coach Darin Ward has done an admirable job of turning the Pioneers’ program around.

Prediction: Boonville 28, Bosse 10

HARRISON (7-2) at EDGEWOOD (3-6), 6 p.m. Friday
Ryan Hales should return at QB for the Warriors after serving a one-game suspension. In his absence, David Felton ran for 108 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries and was 5-for-12 passing for 52 yards in a 40-7 victory over Bosse.

Prediction: Harrison 42, Edgewood 21

CLASS 3A SECTIONAL 32
MEMORIAL (2-7) at PRINCETON (7-2), 7 p.m. Friday
It will be interesting to see which Memorial team shows up. If it’s the team that led Reitz and Harrison late, before losing 36-29 and 29-28, respectively, they could upset Princeton. If not, it’s time for basketball season.

Prediction: Princeton 28, Memorial 21

CLASS 2A SECTIONAL 40
SOUTH SPENCER (2-7) vs. No. 1 MATER DEI (9-0), 7 p.m. Friday
Even if the Wildcats are still resting on the laurels of their third consecutive perfect regular season, they still will win in a romp.

Prediction: Mater Dei 42, South Spencer 7

Last week: 4-0.
Overall: 35-7.

Thanks for reading.

–Gordon Engelhardt

Engelhardt’s final AP prep football ballot

Below is my ballot for the final Associated Press high school football poll. The overall poll, from writers and broadcasters around the state, will appear on Page 3B in Wednesday’s Courier & Press.

Class 6A
1. Center Grove
2. Carmel
3. Penn
4. Indy Cathedral
5. Hamilton SE
6. Avon
7. Warren Central
8. Southport
9. Ben Davis
10. Fishers
Class 5A
1. New Palestine
2. Columbus East
3. Bloomington Soutth
4. Kokomo
5. FW Snider
6. Whiteland
7. Mishawaka
8. Concord
9. Decatur Central
10. S. Bend Adams
Class 4A
1. Lowell
2. Reitz
3. Northview
4. FW Dwenger
5. Jasper
6. Leo
7. Harrison
8. Roncalli
9. E. Central
10. Plymouth
Class 3A
1. Gibson Southern
2. Heritage Hills
3. Indy Chatard
4. W. Lafayette
5. Guerin Catholic
6. FW Luers
7. N. Harrison
8. Jimtown
9. Mishawaka Marian
10. Southridge
Class 2A
1. Mater Dei
2. Eastern Hancock
3. Monrovia
4. Woodlan
5. Eastbrook
6. Whiting
7. Winamac
8. N. Putnam
9. Heritage Christian
10. Indy Ritter
Class A
1. Laf. Cen. Catholic
2. Linton-Stockton
3. Pioneer
4. N. Vermillion
5. Tri-Central
6. W. Washington
7. N. White
8. Shenandoah
9. Perry Central
10. Adams Central

Mater Dei picked to edge Reitz in West Side showdown

SIAC FOOTBALL PREDICTION BLOG – WEEK 9

MATER DEI (8-0, 6-0) at REITZ (8-0, 6-0), 7 p.m. Friday
For the first time, the West Side rivals were both 8-0 when they met last year in their annual regular season finale. They have gone one better this year. Not only are they both undefeated, both are ranked No. 1 in their respective classes for the first time. Mater Dei is rated No. 1 in Class 2A; the Panthers are No. 1 in 4A. Last year, the Wildcats prevailed 28-21. Expect another close game. Both teams have been tested by SIAC opponents. Harrison led MD late and Memorial led Reitz late; MD and Reitz were also in tight battles with Castle. MD has proven vulnerable defensively. The bend-but-don’t-break Wildcats have surrendered an average of 22.1 points per game, which isn’t exactly state championship game caliber. Both teams are averaging more than 40 ppg offensively, but Reitz suffered a terrible blow when WR-S Will Brown underwent season-ending surgery on his lower leg on Tuesday. His absence could prove the difference in a game that could come down to the final minute. MD is seeking its third straight win in the series.

Prediction: Mater Dei 28, Reitz 27

MEMORIAL (2-6, 2-4) at CASTLE (4-4, 3-3), 7 p.m. Friday
The Knights bounced back from a devastating defeat to pound North, 51-0 as Dayne Keller threw a season-high six touchdown passes. Castle, which hopes to take a two-game winning streak into postseason, will no longer have to contend with the Terre Haute schools in the Class 5A sectional. Memorial will play without RB Drew Parker, who had 73 yards rushing on 15 carries before being ejected in a 29-28 loss to Harrison last Friday.

Prediction: Castle 35, Memorial 21

HARRISON (6-2, 4-2) at BOSSE (2-6, 1-5), 7 p.m. Friday
Even without two players, the Warriors should roll past Bosse in this East Side rivalry. C.J. Hedgepeth will probably again spell Ryan Hales at quarterback. Hales and D’Allen Haskins were both ejected late in Harrison’s 29-28 victory over Memorial last Friday. Hedgepth admitted the Warriors were “a team of hotheads.” They will need to be far more disciplined if they expect to challenge Reitz and Jasper in the upcoming 4A sectional.

Prediction: Harrison 35, Bosse 14

CENTRAL (4-4, 2-4) at NORTH (1-7, 0-6), 7 p.m. Friday
The Bears will again be without star RB Tias Stewart, but should still have plenty in the tank to beat North, which has struggled mightily.

Prediction: Central 28, North 14

Last week: 4-0.
Overall: 31-7.

Thanks for reading.

–Gordon Engelhardt

Top five storylines from postseason draw

The IHSAA revealed the football sectional pairings late Sunday afternoon. Here are the first-round pairings for all local and area teams. Here is the write-up for Monday’s print edition. And below are my top five storylines from the random draw.

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  1. Is this Gibson Southern’s year to get past an Indy private school in semi-state? The 3A No. 1 Titans (8-0) are heavy favorites to win Sectional 32 and can make a strong case as the toughest team in Southwestern Indiana. They pack postseason experience, depth, an up-tempo spread offense and a front four defensively that can wreak havoc. All signs point toward No. 3 Indianapolis Bishop Chatard (5-3) standing in Gibson’s path in advancing to its first state final in program history. This may be head coach Nick Hart’s best team to do it with. The Titans lost semi-state appearances to Brebeuf Jesuit in 2013 and Chatard in 2012.
  2. How much does Reitz have left in the tank? The Panthers (8-0) have looked susceptible at times but have retained their 4A No. 1 ranking all season backed behind a high-powered and balanced offense and a defense that possibly doesn’t get enough credit. They face considerable challenges ahead the next few weeks. Not only is all-state senior linebacker Will Brown sidelined for the season (in addition to sophomore Joey Diekmann), Reitz also faces an emotional game against Westside rival Mater Dei in a battle of unbeaten and top-ranked teams Friday. The Panthers road to a regional is no cakewalk, either. There’s a lot of parity in 4A, and the perception that Reitz isn’t convincing enough to justify its ranking may fuel the fire of a talented senior class. Blocking its likely path are also No. 5 East Central (7-1) in a regional and potentially either No. 3 Northview (8-0) or No. 13 Roncalli (4-4) in a semi-state. Head coach Andy Hape was glad to stay relatively close for the sectional and remains optimistic based on progress shown.
  3. MaterDeiSemi2_9763786_ver1.0_640_480Does Mater Dei again have the best odds of the pocket to reach state? I think it’s a fair assessment. The 2A top-ranked Wildcats (8-0) are currently the only team with a winning record in Sectional 40. Their offense has been borderline unstoppable for the majority of the season and head coach Mike Goebel believes his defense is continuing to make strides. Mater Dei’s road beyond sectionals likely features No. 3 Monrovia in regionals and No. 2 Eastern Hancock in semi-state. Sagarin ratings have a sizeable difference between the Wildcats and teams below them in 2A, though.
  4. Will Castle make a run past sectionals? That’s the $100 question in Newburgh. The Knights (4-4) have flashed the potential to compete with top-tier programs but need to become more consistent over 48 minutes. The recent realignment favors Castle in Sectional 16, and head coach Doug Hurt believes it isn’t far from playing at a high level. If the Knights take care of business, they’d likely host No. 4 Bloomington South (8-0) in a regional. 5A is fairly loaded after both Columbus East and New Palestine were promoted due to the IHSAA tournament success factor. “I think our kids will be really excited to get back to practice (Monday) and try to have a better result in the second half of the season than we did in the first,” Hurt said. “We’ve just been a little bit off. If we can find a way to be just a little bit better and make some championship plays down the stretch, then I think we can make a run out of this thing.”
  5. 804511How much of a banner year will this be for Harrison? The Warriors (6-2) already captured their first winning season since 2004 and are positioned well to advance to the sectional championship for the first time since then as well. But consistency has plagued Harrison week to week. At times, they’re capable of upsetting a top-ranked team while at others, you wonder how it’s the same team. Anyone can lay an egg at any time, especially in high school. Much has been written about the Warriors athleticism and that has translated to the win column. A sectional title is asking for a lot, but it’s the next step on the ladder.

Quick hits:

  • A year after drawing a ranked Vincennes Lincoln team in the opening round, Heritage Hills moves to 3A-31 and are still stuck with a quality opponent off the bat in Charlestown. It’ll be a rematch of last year’s regional championship, won by the Patriots.
  • Southridge saw an uptick in academic enrollment and join the 31 party as well. The Raiders (6-2) won’t have it any easier when they host No. 8 North Harrison (8-0). 31 is arguably the toughest in the C&P coverage area. Six teams boast winning records.
  • Both Castle and North waved goodbye to the Terre Haute schools that won 5A-16 the last two years, and say hello to old pals Bedford and Floyd Central. Both are nearly equidistant to the two SIAC schools and only slightly further away than Terre Haute.
  • Edgewood and Bosse are newcomers in 4A-24 as Silver Creek and Seymour move out. Bosse was reclassified after a reported increase in enrollment that bumped them up from 3A. Tough break.
  • Gibson Southern and Heritage Hills could meet for a rematch of last year’s 3A-32 championship in this year’s regional round. The Titans should clinch their third Pocket Athletic Conference title in four years Friday, taking back the crown from the Patriots.
  • Most sectionals have a clear-cut favorite, but I’m still going to cop out and say I need to see what happens this week to make final predictions. There aren’t many dark horses to pick as upsets outside of Jasper/Harrison in 4A-24 and Southridge in 3A-31.

SIAC football predictions for Week 8

SIAC FOOTBALL BLOG – WEEK 8

HARRISON (5-2, 3-2) vs. MEMORIAL (2-5, 2-3), 7 p.m. Friday, Enlow Field
We will see if the Warriors can build on the momentum of last week’s improbable 39-38 come-from-behind victory over Castle, in which they scored 32 unanswered second-half points, underscoring the volatility and unpredictability of the SIAC season so far. Barring a first-round loss in the playoffs, Harrison has clinched its first winning campaign since the 2004 team ended 7-5. Memorial remains a mystery. After leading Reitz with 1:01 left the previous week only to lose, 36-29, the Tigers were hammered 41-14 by Central last Friday. Memorial has surrendered an SIAC-high 236 points.

Prediction: Harrison 35, Memorial 21

MATER DEI (7-0, 5-0) at CENTRAL (4-3, 2-3), 7 p.m. Friday
The Bears will try to stop Mater Dei from yet another undefeated regular season. Subbing for injured Tias Stewart, 5-foot-5 Dorian Stewart stepped up big, rushing for 271 yards on 48 carries, including three scores, in a 41-14 romp over Memorial as Central snapped a three-game losing streak. The Wildcats, who have a bend-but-don’t-break defensive philosophy, have more than enough to stop Central’s one-dimensional attack. MD is ranked No. 1 in Class 2A.

Prediction: Mater Dei 42, Central 24

BOSSE (2-5, 1-4) at REITZ (7-0, 5-0), 7 p.m. Friday
Nothing should stand in the way of the Panthers rolling to another win, setting the stage for the second successive Reitz-Mater Dei battle with both teams entering the regular season finale with 8-0 records – something that has never happened before (I do not believe both teams have been ranked No. 1 in their respective classes when they met, either). Reitz two-way standout Will Brown is out indefinitely with an apparently severe ankle injury. The Panthers are ranked No. 1 in Class 4A.

Prediction: Reitz 49, Bosse 14

NORTH (1-6, 0-5) at CASTLE (3-4, 2-3), 7 p.m. Friday
This should be a get-well game for the Knights, who scored 31 consecutive second-quarter points to take a 38-7 halftime lead, only to let it slip away in a 39-38 loss to Harrison. Game-breaker Jadrien Higginson could return after missing two games with concussion-like symptoms. North has dropped five in row. ‘Nuff said.

Prediction: Castle 35, North 21

Last week: 2-2
Overall: 27-7

–Thanks for reading

Gordon Engelhardt

SW Indiana Week 8 Power Rankings

Back by popular demand: power rankings for Southwestern Indiana high school football. These were introduced midseason, with emphasis placed on Sagarin ratings, strength of schedule, common opponents and known injuries. I decided to cut down from six tiers to five as there is too much parity at the bottom. This is all for fun and shouldn’t be taken personally.

TierI-Midseason Power Rankings2

No change here since midseason, except that Gibson Southern has distanced itself a bit from Reitz and Mater Dei based on Sagarin. Simply put, the Titans have shown zero weaknesses while the Westside of Evansville schools have. Either could easily be 5-2 with losses to unranked teams. But, in reality, all three are the only remaining undefeated teams in the pocket, have No. 1 rankings attached to their school and are near-locks to win sectional titles.

TierII-Midseason Power Rankings2

Harrison and Southridge join the mix of the second tier. The Warriors pulled off a remarkable comeback against Castle last week, coming back from a 38-7 halftime deficit to win 39-38. Depending on how they show the next two weeks, they’d be a tough draw in the sectional. Castle drops three spots in the process. They’ve got the talent, but haven’t been able to come up on the winning side of close games. Both Heritage Hills and Jasper both benefit from that in this exercise. Worth noting: Castle is still the favorite to win a sectional after the offseason realignment.

TierIII-Midseason Power Rankings2

Again, this is where it starts to drop off. Memorial laid an egg last week against Central, who pounded the Tigers 41-14. I’m not sold that there’s that much separation between the two. Half of the Big Eight is in a dogfight for second place behind Jasper, with Princeton in the driver’s seat at 3-1. And Perry Central lost its first game, so they take a hit like any non-power five team in the college top 25 would after losing.

TierIV-Midseason Power Rankings2

TierV-Midseason Power Rankings2

I’m again going to lump the last two tiers together because it’s senseless to clamor for a bad team over a really bad team. This seems optimistic for North, after losing to Bosse two weeks ago, to still rank ahead of the Bulldogs. But there’s too large of a different in Sagarin. And I think if you play the matchup best of seven, I’ll take North in five (it’s still baseball season). Four teams from the Pocket in the bottom seven, including three 1-6 teams. Kudos to Tell City interim head coach Josh Teague for picking up his first win in an overtime win against North Posey, who dropped off the map this year.

So where am I off? Let me know in the comments and keep it civil.